Have a squiz at the other restaurants in the D&D stable and you’d be forgiven for thinking that Crafthouse, their first UK venture outside London, might be a bit on the shiny and showy side. To a degree, you wouldn’t be far wrong.
One ascends in the private lift (‘cos who wants to mingle with the minging masses in the Trinity shopping complex, eh?) and heads to the cocktail bar – Angelica – where, on this visit, expensively frocked folk were facing-off on the roof terrace about who between them was the bezziest of buddies with Stella McCartney.
Zone out the WAG-ish vibes, though, and it is an impressive space; oak and marble heft; widescreen views of LeedsLeedsLeeds; carpet you could kip on.
Back down a flight of stairs, the restaurant’s smart and airy. It’s also massive and empty on this Sunday visit. The place is full on a Friday and Sat’day, a waiter tells us. Given the pricey fit-out, it surely needs to be.
But like divs, we’ve judged this type of book by its marbled and chromed cover before, and came rapidly unstuck. Over in Bradford, the garishly bling-bling Mumtaz does a top-drawer chicken karahi. Up the road at sparkly San Carlo, that pizza of blistery joy is still, for us, the one to beat. All that glitters might not be golden, but it can be pretty good.
Certainly, there was enough about our Crafthouse scran to suggest it’s worth a return visit on one of those buzzier nights we were told about.
Ham beignets – from the hock of a handsome beast given this depth of flavour – were bronzed, bold and free of any oily sog. A quick dredge through some vivid pea puree countered the hammy richness.
Meaty cubes of fresh smoked salmon were spritzed up with chive oil and punchy pea shoots. A simple showcase of some well-sourced produce.
Roasts (beef sirloin; leg of lamb,) could have done with a longer blast of initial heat to further frazzle and render the outer fat, and we’d prefer both a shade more pink if poss, but even pre-gravied the fleshy slabs were moist and unctuous.
Carrots is carrots and peas is peas, but on the important business of roast potatoes – and such business is important – these were belters. All fluff and crisp, with a meaty (duck fatty?) tang. Best I’ve forked.
Yorkshire Puddings were on the money.
We swerved dessert and got straight amongst coffee. The buttery, spongy financiers that came with it – hoovered up in one pop – were further evidence that there are folk in this kitchen who know how to do the good stuff.
Should you fancy it, you can fill yer boots on free-flow prosecco (decent stuff, too,) for a tenner per quaffer on the Sunday lunch deal.
Service was warm from the off and became increasingly relaxed as more tables landed.
The lass who knocked a couple of cocktails up for us, (soz; that’ll be mixologist here,) properly gave a shit as to if we liked them or not, and seemed genuinely pleased to see us necking both with abandon.
We clocked one front-of-house guy who we’d last seen working at the Box Tree. He’s dead good and refrained from guffawing at how pished we’d been when we last saw him.
It’s 20 quid for two courses on the Sabbath, from a nicely succinct menu.